Everything I Know About Starting An Online Business – Part 1

Rule #1: Build It, Don’t Buy It

As a longtime internet publisher, I’ve sold more than my fair share of advertising. Every single day I get dozens, if not more, emails from people who want to advertise their online business to my readers.

For the most part, I turn them down. I don’t actually say no, per se, but what I do do, is quote them an exhorbiant price to get them to go away.

Why do I do that?

Because, they didn’t follow Rule #1. The bought something and didn’t build something new.

surprised man getting money from the internet

A few years ago, there was an incredibly popular internet business that allowed members to save money on fancy hotels all across the globe. Members also were able to get discounted airfare, cruises and car rentals. The program must have been incredible, because for a time it seemed like everyone, and their brother, was promoting the program. For our example purposes, let’s say it was called Awesome Vacations.

Every Awesome Vacations member was assigned a unique URL. Each url began with the domain name but had a unique identifier affixed to the end, that allowed them to get credit when someone else signed up, and paid for an account, via their link. Something like this:


Their web site was beautiful. It was expertly crafted to separate you from your money in exchange for not just a luxury vacation, but also for chance to separate other people doing the same thing.

As far as I know, it was an actual legitimate business, and there were actual real vacations that were taken.

So why do I bring it up?

Because, there was a year when it seemed like every single ad inquiry I received was from someone looking to promote their Awesome Travel URL.

Awesome Travel wisely provided their members with a handful of banners ads suitable for marketing their unique URLs.

If you wanted to promote your Awesome Travel link, all you had to do was to find places that would run it and use one of the standard banners and your unique link.

You can probably imagine what happened. There were weeks, and maybe months, when I had running on my site, every single one of the banner ads provided by Awesome Travel. Every single ad spot on my site was devoted to promoting a different Awesome Travel member.

This was great for me. But it was horrible for for the Awesome Travel members.

In the first place, I just kept inching up the price.

In the second, if someone visited my site during this period and clicked every single one of the Awesome Travel ads before eventually purchasing, who got the credit? Was it the member who owned the first banner clicked or the last? I don’t know.

Thirdly, no matter which button you pressed, every Awesome Travel site looked exactly the same. There was absolutely nothing different about the individual websites at all. Their only difference was the member who received the credit for any sales.

This was a perfect example of why you should build something, not buy it.

If you buy an online business, you’ll be competing against everyone else selling the exact same thing. Not only that, but you’ll probably be marketing the business in exactly the same way as everyone else.

Let me tell you something else: the other question I’m often asked by people who want to advertise their online business opportunity on my website is will they make money?

The truth is maybe. Maybe if you get in early enough that everyone else hasn’t already purchased and is reselling the same thing.

But probably not. As I mentioned, I’ve been selling advertising to people with online businesses for a long time. Guess what happens if I discover that there’s a online business who’s advertising is converting really well on my website? I kick all the advertisers off and sign up for the program myself.

You see, those advertisers are doing my beta testing for me. They’re trying out online business opportunities and figuring out which ones sell, and which ones don’t, and then I’m swooping in and taking all of the reward.

Don’t put yourself in this situation. Build your own online business, don’t buy someone else’s.